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Democrats bring out their biggest star - Barack Obama - to stump for Biden

Obama, who served eight years in office with Biden, will urge supporters to vote early for the former vice president and other Democratic candidates at an outdoor drive-in rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's biggest city, an Obama aide said. Americans are voting early at a record pace this year, with more than 41 million ballots cast both via mail and in person ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3, on concerns about the coronavirus and to make sure their votes are counted.

Reuters | Washington DC | Updated: 22-10-2020 00:53 IST | Created: 22-10-2020 00:24 IST
Democrats bring out their biggest star - Barack Obama - to stump for Biden
Representative image. Image Credit: ANI

Former President Barack Obama will make his first appearance on the campaign trail on Wednesday for Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who is locked in a tight race with President Donald Trump in crucial states with just 13 days to go in the campaign. Obama, who served eight years in office with Biden, will urge supporters to vote early for the former vice president and other Democratic candidates at an outdoor drive-in rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's biggest city, an Obama aide said.

Americans are voting early at a record pace this year, with more than 41 million ballots cast both via mail and in person ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3, on concerns about the coronavirus and to make sure their votes are counted. Trump will head to North Carolina, another battleground state where opinion polls show a tight race, for a rally on Wednesday evening.

COVID-19 ON THE RISE AGAIN The last days of campaigning are taking place amid a surge in new cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations in battleground states, including North Carolina and Pennsylvania but also Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan.

Pennsylvania has averaged 1,500 new cases per day over the last week, a level it has not seen since April, according to a Reuters analysis. North Carolina is averaging 2,000 new cases a day over the past week, its highest level ever. Polling shows a majority of voters are disappointed in the way Trump has handled the pandemic, which he has repeatedly said would disappear on its own.

On a call organized by the Biden campaign and Texas Democrats on Wednesday, several Texas Republican urged fellow conservatives to vote for Biden, citing the coronavirus crisis as well as Biden's character. "This is not a decision I took lightly. I love the GOP, and I love most GOP officials. But I love my country more," said Jacob Monty, a Republican immigration lawyer who resigned from Trump's national Hispanic advisory council in 2016.

OBAMA IN THE SPOTLIGHT The rare public appearance by Obama, still one of the Democratic Party's biggest stars nearly four years after leaving the White House and a frequent target of Trump's attacks, comes at a critical time.

Biden and Trump are scheduled to meet in their second and final debate on Thursday night, giving the Republican an opportunity to change the trajectory of a race that Biden is leading in national polls. Biden's campaign manager, Jen O'Malley Dillon, has warned staff and supporters she sees a far closer race in the 17 states the campaign considers battlegrounds than is suggested by the national polls showing he has a wide lead.

"As President Obama has said, this is an all-hands-on-deck moment, and he looks forward to hitting the trail in person, socially distanced, since we're just two weeks out from the most important election of our lifetimes," the Obama aide said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Biden believes he must win his birth state of Pennsylvania, which Democrats narrowly lost to Trump in 2016, and has visited it more than any other state during the campaign.

Trump has gained ground in Pennsylvania, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Monday, which showed the challenger leading by 49% to 45%, slightly narrower than a week earlier. "If we win Pennsylvania, we win the whole thing," Trump said on Tuesday at a rally in Erie, in the state's northwestern corner.

The record early vote so far represents about 30% of the total ballots cast in 2016, according to the University of Florida's U.S. Elections Project. Opinion polls and voting returns indicate that many of these early voters typically don't participate in elections but are coming off the sidelines this year to back Biden - or vote out Trump.

Trump, who has resumed a crowded schedule of rallies since recovering from his recent bout with COVID-19, will appear on Wednesday night at an airport rally in Gastonia, North Carolina. Biden's running mate Kamala Harris is also in North Carolina to mobilize voters in Asheville and Charlotte.


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